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International festival directors met in Ostrava for the 2015 EFA General Assembly

10 June 2015

From 4 to 7 June 2015, the General Assembly of the European Festivals Association (EFA) took place in Ostrava, Czech Republic. It was hosted by the International Music Festival “Janáček May”, which celebrates its 40th jubilee in 2015. Some 100 festival directors representing more than 50 festivals in 26 countries attended the annual EFA gathering to exchange, network, and explore the grounds for future collaboration. EFA and the Janáček May Festival took this moment as an opportunity to underline the importance of international cooperation for the impact of culture at the local level.

“Festivals have been working across borders and cultures since the dawn of festivals, before Europe was a project of unity, before Europe was a space that aimed to facilitate cross-border exchanges. In particular in these times of global challenges and changes, EFA can offer a community of friendship, trust, solidarity and learning through its ever expending network of established and emerging festivals as well as cultural organisations collaborating across borders and arts disciplines,” said Darko Brlek, President EFA.

EFA has been uniting distinguished music, dance, theatre and multidisciplinary arts festivals from Europe and beyond for more than 60 years. EFA’s members are the core element that make the Association an open, influential, international place for any festival that wants to be part of a bigger festival community. Voted by the formal General Assembly three new members joined the Association: Europalia Arts Festival (Belgium), Batumi MusicFest (Georgia) and Pavia Barocca (Italy). EFA now represents 96 festivals, national festival associations and cultural networks from 40 countries.

“Thanks to the strong support of its members EFA is able to continue and further develop its international cooperation projects. With all of its initiatives EFA brings festivals together to inspire one another, fosters an exchange of knowledge, helps festivals to speak with one strong voice to shape policy developments, increases networking opportunities, and keeps festivals informed about issues at stake in the festival and cultural world, all under the flag of artistic excellence and internationalisation,” said Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General EFA, explaining the mission of the Association.

EFA members had the chance to discuss collaboration opportunities with invited guests from around the globe. In the presence of H.E. Mr. Narong Sasitorn, Ambassador of Thailand to the Czech Republic, and H.E. Gunavibool Nopadol, Ambassador of Thailand to Belgium, The Festival Academy and the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau signed an agreement for collaboration on an Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2016.

The 4-day programme included workshops, the formal General Assembly, many networking moments and a rich artistic and cultural programme as part of the International Music Festival “Janáček May”. During the formal General Assembly EFA members and the EFA Board agreed on the next actions for EFA’s work programme including its initiatives such as The Festival Academy, EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe, and the European House for Culture. Claus Hässig, Secretary General Grand Théâtre de Genève, commemorated Tamás Klenjánszky, former EFA Secretary General.

“It was very important for us, the International Music Festival “Janáček May”, and the City of Ostrava to receive such an international delegation of cultural actors in our city. We hope that the exchanges will lead to many collaborations between festivals across countries,” said Jaromír Javůrek, Director International Music Festival “Janáček May”. EFA would like to thank for their support the City of Ostrava and PhDr. Evžen Tošenovský, Member of the European Parliament.

During the closing night on 6 June at Šilheřovice Chateau the flag of EFA was handed over to the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans, which will host the 2016 EFA General Assembly in Wroclaw, Poland from 14-17 April 2016.